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Elephant Rumblings: Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter for White Sox

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago White Sox Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

Major League Baseball got its first no-hitter of the 2020 season on Tuesday, courtesy of Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox.

The performance came against the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates, who are last place in their NL Central division. The right-hander struck out 13 batters and allowed just one walk. That free pass, in the 4th inning to Erik Gonzalez, was the only thing standing between Giolito and perfection. It took him only 101 pitches to complete the shutout, meaning this was almost a Maddux in addition to a Ryan (that’s a term I just invented for a no-no).

This is just the latest accomplishment for Giolito, who is beginning to make good on his once-elite prospect status — he ranked as high as No. 3 nationally per MLB Pipeline and Baseball Prospectus entering 2016, and No. 5 at Baseball America that same year. Chicago paid a premium to get him the next winter, acquiring him as the headliner for outfielder Adam Eaton (then coming off a 6-WAR season).

Giolito scuffled for a couple years in the majors but broke out last summer, earning an All-Star berth and posting excellent marks with a 3.41 ERA, 3.43 FIP, and a pair of shutouts. He struck out 228 batters in just 176⅔ innings.

Now age 25, he’s been even better so far this year. His FIP is down to 2.70, he’s still striking out 12 batters per nine innings, and he’s cut his hits and homers in his first seven starts — most notably in this most recent game.

This is also relevant to the Oakland A’s because of possible postseason implications. The young White Sox are looking like good bets to make the playoffs, and if the season ended today they’d be the seventh seed — they’re tied for second in their division but would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker against Cleveland, making them the best third-place team. That would put them only one spot away from a first-round matchup against the AL-best A’s, and over the course of the next month there are plenty of ways that the stars could align for them to face off in the Wild Card Round (or, in the second round if they both make it).

Fortunately, the A’s are armed with a pair of no-hitter artists themselves, and it’s the two relatively worst starters in their rotation. A’s-ChiSox would be a hell of a fun series. (They also have Gio Gonzalez!)

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